Giraffe and Bird Together Again
Giraffe and Bird Together Again
When it comes to adventures, Giraffe would say,
no, thank you.. He’s perfectly happy right
where he is. Gaze, graze, swat flies. Repeat.
Bird, on the other hand, would say, sign me up.
Glide, swoop, soar. Explore!
Children will have previously met this delightful, sometimes squabbling, animal odd couple in Bender’s two earlier books, Giraffe and Bird and Don’t Laugh at Giraffe. The excerpt above opens the picture-book and establishes that the animal pair differ in their approaches to life. Giraffe’s comfort is found in routine while Bird seeks novelty in his life. Author/illustrator Bender then reinforces their differences by comparing their eating habits and approaches to play.
One morning, Giraffe experiences a peaceful breakfast without having Bird perched on his head, a quiet he attributes to Bird’s “probably just hunting for bugs”. However, when Bird hasn’t appeared by afternoon, Giraffe becomes concerned that something may have happened to Bird, and so Giraffe goes in search of Bird by following a trail of green feathers. Giraffe’s pursuit takes him into a dense forest where the lanky animal, who is used to the open plains’ spaciousness, finds it most difficult to manoeuver. Giraffe considers turning back, but his concern that Bird may be in trouble causes him to continue, only to be next confronted by a hoof-challenging craggy mountain.
From the mountain top, Giraffe spots a shiny object and “a small and beaky someone next to it” in a slumped position. Rushing to Bird’s aid, Giraffe unwittingly steps into quicksand, sinking deeper and deeper. Though the situation initially appears quite dire, Giraffe’s physical attributes which had hindered him in the forest and on the mountain become assets as Giraffe’s long legs are able to touch the bottom while his long neck keeps his head above the surface. Exhausted after climbing out of the quicksand, Giraffe does not have to face an arduous return journey as Bird comes up with a novel, albeit somewhat fantastical, solution. Back home, the pair strike a deal, one which will see Bird wandering a little less in the future while Giraffe will up his exploring level somewhat. Oh, and the shiny object Giraffe saw from the top of the mountain? It was the pole supporting a sign warning of QUICKSAND!.
Bender’s acrylic and coloured pencil artwork is an essential part of the book’s success, and, as in the previous Giraffe and Bird books, the illustrations’ contents not only reflect the characters’ emotions but add to the book’s written text. For example, in the mountain scene, the text reads:
Step after step, Giraffe climbs. His hooves slip on the rocky slope until he tumbles backward.
But this is no time to give up.
By itself, the text suggests that it is solely Giraffe’s perseverance that caused him to summit, but Bender’s illustration reveals that Giraffe had some assistance from a pair of ibexes who were pushing him from behind.
Bender provides foreshadowing to the contents of Giraffe and Bird Together Again via a map that occupies part of the copyright page and its facing page. There, young readers can see the route that Giraffe will follow in his quest to find Bird as well as learn the names of the two other African animals that will make cameo experiences in Bender’s illustrations.
Like the earlier two books in the series, Giraffe and Bird Together Again offers subtle lessons in the dimensions of friendship.
Grade One children all across Canada will encounter these two animal friends this autumn as Giraffe and Bird has been chosen as the 2018 TD Grade One Book Giveaway selection.
Dave Jenkinson, CM's editor, lives in Winnipeg, MB, where he is more Giraffe than Bird.